Page 573 - Kosovo Metohija Heritage
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and illegal immigrants descending from the highlands of northern and central albania and settling in the plains of Metohija and Kosovo at various times during Ottoman rule (1455–1912), under the italian Fascist and German Nazi occupation (1941–1945), and under Tito’s communist re- gime (1945–1990). in 1968, supported by the lifetime dic- tator of communist Yugoslavia j. B. Tito and in the con- text of further decentralization of the communist federa- tion, the albanian communist leadership of Kosovo suc- ceeded in banning the name Metohija, seen as too much Christian Orthodox and Serbian for the desired political image of the albanian-dominated Province of Kosovo. in 1990, the term Metohija was reintroduced, as the official part of the name of the Province after its autonomy was limited and the province returned under the jurisdiction of Serbia.
Waves of spiralling violence continued, remaining the main characteristic of Kosovo and Metohija history. as a phenomenon of longue durée, the Serbian-albanian ri- valry in Kosovo–Metohija has been marked by the com- bined effects of social discontent and religious and eth- nic strife, producing several waves of mass migrations during the last three hundred years. Muslim albanians from the highlands of northern and central albania, the poorest region of Turkey-in-europe, were steadily settled in the fertile plains of Metohija and Kosovo by the Otto- man authorities, and their main rivals there were Chris- tian Orthodox Serb peasants, as they occupied most of the arable land.6
Occasional instances of interethnic and inter-religious cooperation, as well as rare attempts of mutual commu- nal assistance—usually short-lived and only superficially
6 See more in the selected Western sources on various periods of Kosovo–Metohija’s history: Simpliziano Bizozeri, La Sacra Lega con- tro la Potenza Ottomana Sucessi delle Armi imperiali, Polacche, Venete e Moscovite, Rotte, e disfatte di Eserciti de Turchi, Tartari, e Ribelli, vol. ii. (Milano: M.a.P. Malatesta, 1700; ami Boué, La Tur- quie d’Europe : observations sur la géographie, la géologie, l’histoire naturelle, la statistique, les mœurs, les coutumes, l’archéologie, l’agri- culture, l’industrie, le commerce, les gouvernements divers, le clergé, l’histoire et l’état politique de cet empire, vol. i–iii, (Paris: a. Bertrand 1840); ami Boué, Recueil d’itinéraires dans la Turquie d’Europe, vol. i–ii (Vienne: W. Braumüller, 1854); abdolonyme Ubicini, Les Serbes de Turquie, études historiques, statistiques et politiques sur la princi- pauté de Serbie, le Monténégro et les pays serbes adjacents (Paris: e. Dentu, 1865); G. Muir Mackenzie & a. P. irby, Travels in the Slavonic Provinces of Turkey-in-Europe (London: Daldy, isbister and Co. 1877); Victor Bérard, La Macédoine (Paris: Calman Lévy, 1900); Henry N. Brailsford, Macedonia Its Races and their Future (London: Methuen, 1906); Frederick Moore, The Balkan Trail (New York: Smith, elder & Co 1906); Gaston Gravier, “La Vieille Serbie et les albanais,” Revue de Paris, 1er novembre 1911; Georges Gaulis, La ruine d’un empire Abd- ul-Hamid ses amis et ses peuples (Paris: a. Colin 1913); Maximilian Braun, Kosovo Die Schlacht auf dem Amsfelde in feschichtlicher und epischer Uberlieferung, (Leipzig: Markert und Petter : Druck von C. Schulze, 1937), Rebecca West, The Black Lamb and Grey Falcon The record of a journey through Yugoslavia in 1937 (London: MacMillan & Co., 1941).
Kosovo and Metohija: History, Memory, identity
tolerant—were not the prevailing political practice. in spite of certain efforts during the last two centuries, for the two main Kosovo communities, albanian and Serb, as well as for the other non-albanians in the area (Goranies, i.e. the Muslim Slav, Serbian-speaking community of the Gora region bordering present-day FYROM and albania; Roma with several names and denominations; ethnic Turks, mostly urban population; other Muslim Slavs in Metohi- ja, renamed Bosniaks since 1999; ethnic Croats in Letni- ca), interethnic communication remained very limited. Furthermore, interethnic communication failed to sur- vive the mounting Serbian–albanian conflict at the end of the twentieth century.7 interethnic distance in Kosovo and Metohija has remained highest within the whole of Serbia, with no tangible improvements after the 1999 sav- age NaTO bombing campaign (38,000 combat sorties be- tween 24 March and 10 june 1999) and the resulting es- tablishment of the UN administration (UNMiK) over this southern province of Serbia in june 1999.
For the average albanian of today, on the other hand, the word Kosovo (or Kosova in albanian) symbolizes an “ancient albanian land” directly linking the ancient illyr- ians of Dardania with the modern albanian community in this territory. The common self-perception of the Ko- sovo albanians is that of the greatest victims of Balkan history—in particular prior to and after the Balkan Wars (1912–1913)—deprived of the right to form a single state with the rest of their fellow albanians, all proud descen- dants of ancient illyrians.
although interpretable as a Balkan instance of “invent- ing tradition” and having little to do with the established and verifiable historical facts, the myth of the illyrian ori- gin of modern albanians was a powerful ideology that ef- fectively bound together very different religious groups and clans together in the late nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century.8 in more recent times, for the albanians, Kosovo has become the symbol of Diaspora na- tionalism nurtured by their constant demographic growth as a form of ethnic legitimization over the disputed ter- ritory. in the case of Kosovo, the Diaspora type of nation- alism is almost synonymous with the desire for complete and unrestricted ethnic control over a disputed area.9 This
8 eric Hobsbawm, “introduction: inventing Traditions” in eric Hobsbawm & Terence Ranger, eds., The Invention of Tradition (Cam- bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 1–2.
9 Cf standard works in english and French: alex N. Dragnich & Slavko Todorovich, The Saga of Kosovo Focus on Serbian–Albanian Relations (Boulder: east european Monographs, Columbia Univer- sity Press, 1984); arshi Pipa & Sami Repishti, eds., Studies on Kosova (east european Monographs, Boulder: Columbia University Press,
  Cf Ger Duijzings, Religion and the Politics of Identity in Kosovo (London: Hurst & Co, 2000). another sympathetic, useful but in- complete survey highlighting mostly the positive aspect of intereth- nic relations, in particular between Serbs and albanians, is available in the journalistic narrative of Petrit imami, Srbi i Albanci kroz veko- ve (Belgrade: Radio B92, 1998).

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